Dollar Disco / Adulture’s Birthday Bash – Sunday January 8th, 2012

Tonight Gramaphone blog’s Adulture is hosting a birthday party at Smartbar, along with Gramaphone’s Michael Serafini, Smartbar’s Kid Color and special guests Jake + Andrew.  Cover is 2$ (free with student ID) and they’ll be playing disco and disco-influenced tunes till 4am.

Seldom Seen – Radio Slide (2007-2010) 12″ – Frustrated Funk

With Radio Slide, Santiago Salazar records his second release under the Seldom Seen alias.  His first was on Underground Resistance in 2004, and as the subtitle for this 12″ indicates, this is a kind of short anthology of what he’s been up to in the interim.  These are funky, feverish, and a bit unhinged, the loose acid basslines and booty bass spiced with ad libbed vocal asides and constant tweaks.  For Motor City electro heads enamoured with the Electrifying Mojo sprit of Ectomorph, Cybotron, and the Detroit Grand Pubahs, this is sure to be a hot EP and is an easy party starter, straddling the divide between booty house, Bunker electro and UR techno.

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Secondo says What About Never

Swiss born Londoner Radovan Scasascia (aka Secondo) has always dabbled in various genres and styles. Here on What About Never he launches the label with some techy house stylings.

Both untitled tracks feature driving beats and some sparse disco sampling and fills. The A side is a bit more disco oriented while the B side takes a cue from the deep house sound with its Kerri Chandler inspired rising chords.

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Chicago’s Mutant Beat Dance keeps it trippy in analogue on Rong Music

Chicago’s Melvin Oliphant (Traxx) and Beau Wanzer both share a love for dark analogue sounds and that’s just what you get on this two track EP on Rong Music. Harking back to an earlier sound of machine music, these stripped down, jacking, slightly gritty tracks are hypnotic and shifty. Like much of the best EBM, they would sound perfectly at home on the soundtrack to a killer 80’s Italian horror/suspense film.

In “AnotherWorld” you get a stripped down jacking drum and bass groove, with morphing synth designs over the top. In the beginning they are hypnotic and haunting, yet by the end there is some beauty and fulfillment to them. The track shows some really nice movement of programming as well as emotive feel.

On the flip in “NewNewsIsOldNews” the duo puts the body music in full overdrive with a dark arpeggiated square tooth synth line at the helm with rolling drum programming and more of those haunting vocal and synth sounds. As dark as this track gets it never goes too far and Oliphant and Wanzer reel it in quickly when necessary.

This is the kind of music that should get goth & industrial fans plus techno heads and acid house aficionados all moving. This is excellent, restrained dark analogue machine music here.

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Gerd’s excellent “Palm Leaves” gets rethought by Larry Heard & Deetron

Its rare when an original track is excellent and also spawns inventive remixes that are excellent in their own right. For “Palm Leaves” by Gerd it seems the perfect pairing is Larry Heard and Deetron.

In classic fashion Larry Heard (Mr. Fingers) takes the track even deeper with some elegant piano lines over a deep running bassline. I can’t help but be reminded of King Britt’s classic Scuba track “Heavenly” when I listen to this one. Just a thing of pure, deep beauty that morphs slowly and by the end is rocking a bit of that Mr. Fingers acid sound.

Deetron takes a different route with his remix adding a bit more driving force and peak hour energy to create a boiling grinder. Utilizing a different take on the original’s acid bassline, Zurich’s Sam Geiser adds on layers of synth and harmonic notes building the track into a bit of a work out.

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Kuniyuki takes Juzu a.k.a. Moochy’s “Re:Momentos” on a deep journey

If you like your house music spaced-out with a touch of balearic african rhythms and tribal jazz, than this one is for you and me.

Japan’s Kuniyuki Takahashi has continued to shine with his inventive remixes and re-workings as well as his own work. Like many Japanese producers, Kuniyuki seems to eschew the rules and create his own framework. One in which jazz, soul, funk, world and electronic music seem to live together in perfect harmony. There is a refined balance to his work and these inventive remixes are excellent examples. Don’t sleep on this one, take it home and experience it all the way through a couple of times and you too will marvel at its genius.

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Norm Talley – Transmissions Part 2 10″ – Thema

Producing heavy underground dance music since the mid-90s, Norm Talley comes highly recommended for fans of Rick Wade and Mike Huckaby as one of the key defenders of the deep house world.  In this latest offering via New York’s Thema imprint, he starts off with a dark and propulsive, techno-leaning track.  He backs the record with an extended version of Man On The Moon, which while staying dark, is a more lilting, spacious, gloomy recording that slowly opens up into a 8th note walking bassline past the halfway mark.

Both of them will work a charm as deep house tool tracks, they’re tracks that build with a subtle, rolling feel and are memorably pressed on a 10″ of white vinyl with a white & purple motif across the record label, jacket, and sticker art.

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Storm Queen brings the 90’s esque House w/ It Goes On

As one-half of the duo Metro Area and Environ Records main man, Morgan Geist has carved out a solid reputation for making tracks that are funky and melodic through analogue sounds and sparse arrangements. With his Storm Queen project he works with vocalist Damon C. Scott and together they take his 80’s Italo derived sound for Metro Area and push it up a decade.

“It Goes On” is the second Storm Queen release and its plucky, dark bass line and solid drum programing beats its way through a sparse jam worthy of late night play. Scott’s vocals build until the track opens into a chorus featuring some nice synth stabs and some synth and programing work reminiscent of the first Kelly Polar album on Environment. It reminds me of a modern day take on the early Cevin Fisher tracks. The dub is as advertised and strips the track down nicely to its best root elements. All in all its a really nice single that will work well with the House and IndieDance heads alike.

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Gramaphone presents: Rhythmatic @ Smartbar – Wednesday January 11th, 2012

Kicking off their 2012 season, Rhythmatic invites Tevo Howard back to join residents Scotty Brandon and Michael Serafini for an evening of house music.  This will be a free event, Smartbar is located at 3730 N Clark.

Actress – Rainy Dub 12″ – Honest Jon’s

Clocking in at around 120bpm on both sides, Actress may be using only the very most liberal definition of house music as a parameter on this two tracker.  The A-side, assumed as the title track, is devoid of any percussive elements.  Rainy Dub is populated exclusively by a squeaky midrange bassline that varies between a couple main themes and is slowly joined by a chattery chorus of twisting dub delays.  On the flip, Faceless is another subversive effort; while it’s clearly anchored by a rhythmic pulse for most of the track, the course of its darkly tuneful path is littered with playful frequency fidgets and constant variations.

In a perverse sense, this could be labelled essentialist bass music, since much of the time there’s little else in besides the bassline.  However, Actress continues to challenge, and to forge an unorthodox sound.

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O/V/R – Live In London 12″ – OVR Live

Staying true to their strict regimen of cultish detail and obscurity, Ruskin and O’Connor (also known as OVR, O/V/R and seperately recording as James Ruskin and Regis…) deliver a white 12″ for this latest purist techno offering.  It is identifiable only via the catalog number etched between the runout grooves and the inverted black-and-white photocopy sheet included, the latter showing a hazy collage of most likely Betty Page bondage spreads and a subscript of the release info at its base.

And where the release delivery is stylistically akin to Regis’ Sandwell District assocation, musically it develops on similar themes as well.  Functionally titled, James Ruskin’s “Live Rhythm Separate” is restrained, stoic, rhythmically dense techno well under 130bpm; Karl O’Connor’s “Live Tonal Separate” is a soundscape of fuzzy vocal samples, reverberations, static, and gradually a ominous thin melodic wash.

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Pilas – Burros 12″ – Shaddock

Pilas comes to us via Shaddock for his third release, his first for the label.  On the A-side, he finds himself knee-deep in the slow, grimy house stylings popularized by the Workshop crew, and true to form has landed the in-demand Kassem Mosse for a twisted re-work with granular vocal processing and an even lower BPM, as if taking the challenge of the slow, mental original and upping the ante.  On the flip, Pilas includes two more originals, both a bit uptempo from the A.  While perhaps more oriented towards the house heads, they both stay dark and atmospheric, rounding out a consistent sound for the EP.  Promising work from a relatively new artist, and with the imposing packaging and higher-profile remixer, it should be gaining him a broader audience.

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Farben – Xango 12″ – Faitiche

Jan Jelinek has finally re-emerged after a half-decade hiatus from his Farben project.  His new releases on the Faitiche imprint stick to his ethos of rigorous sample mining and re-contextualization, but update his previously microhouse sound to the increasingly weird, slow-motion, and bass-oriented palette of recent years.  This latest 12″, his second on the imprint, should appeal to fans of Musik Krause and NSI in addition to the followers of Farben’s various monikers.  It stays low-slung and weird, and while it stays clear that he’s still “loop finding jazz records,” he’s taking the loops in stranger and less club-friendly directions.  Overall, it’s a refreshing, original, and promising take and a welcome return to quality form.

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Kid Koala – Space Cadet: Original Still Picture Score CD & Book – Ninja Tune

Canadian turntablist Kid Koala has extends his storytelling once more with a full book of original, hand-sketched artwork to accompany his hand-scratched vinyl manipulations.

And true to the project, the music is subdued, introspective, and does really sound like it was composed as a concept soundtrack.  The turntablism takes back seat to the sparse, moody orchestrations.  Fans of Kid Koala’s catalog will already be well-acquainted with his penchant for cute graphics and narrative-inspired productions, this natural progression is a beautiful package and unique offering.

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Alva Noto – Univrs 2×12″ – Raster-Noton

Alva Noto mastermind and Raster-Noton cohort Carsten Nicolai doesn’t seem to be mellowing with age.  On the contrary, his spectacular live sets have become increasingly visceral and abrasive, reflecting a frequently similar drift in the Raster-Noton catalog.

In line with this shift, Univers is an album of precise tones and atomized sound design, mostly in the service of harsh industrial rhythms.  And as with all releases on the label, there’s similar attentiveness given to the visual presentation: this a deluxe gatefold with minimalistic utilitarian layout.  Recommended for fans of Sleeparchive, Byetone, Mika Vainio et al.

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James Blake – Enough Thunder 12″ – Universal

This mini-album from dubstep, downtempo, singer-songwriter impressario James Blake expands on the vocal & acoustic-hybrid efforts he explored on an acclaimed self-titled full-length.

For about half the album, he sticks to barely processed piano and vocals, his singing sometimes with shades of Antony Hegarty falsetto.  Here and there he still adds electronic flourishes, as on the beatwork of “We Might Feel Unsound” and the vocoding of his Bon Iver collaboration “Fall Creek Boys.”  He’s certainly found a broader audience with his new direction, and this well-assembled package, with its full cover art and friendly price will serve to deepen that connection.

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The Aphotic Segments Part 1 12″ – Sistrum

The conspicuously consistent quality of Sistrum label head Patrice Scott comes to bear both in compiling this compelling compilation and in his sonic contribution.  His suggestively titled “3AM” starts off unassuming, but builds into a cascading metalic riff that forms the 12″s most vigorous jam.

But he’s also assembled an excellent team of veterans, and they deliver in subtle spades.  Sunshine stands with Anton Zap‘s strongest material, its effortless bassy funk is undeniable.  Leonid’s contribution is deep as ever, but a touch more on the propulsive, upbeat side when compared with his solo work; XDB keeps it deep and hypnotic.

Sistrum consistently releases quality deep Detroit sounds, and this compilation neatly meets its high standards.  Understated as they are, these songs are growers: tracks that gradually blossom after taking root.

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Karenn – Sheworks001 12″ – Works The Long Nights

Karenn, a Blawan collaboration that has just emerged earlier this year, seems to focus more on the atmospheric side of Blawan’s range.  This isn’t to say that it’s any less aggressive, just that there are more noise washes and sometimes thicker textures involved than in his recent solo work.  This creatively-inked 12″ is packed with clattering, raucous, darkly ecstatic midnight rhythms. Out of the recent flood of artists jumping from dubstep back into a techno-oriented sound, this seems to be a promising project.

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Mike Huckaby – My Life With The Wave 12″ – S Y N T H

One of my favourite Mike Huckaby joints is happily revisited here on his own S Y N T H imprint.  Regardless of the critical backlash against the term “dub techno,” this is a 12″ that stands up well, even a few years after its original limited release in 2007.

The long side hints at the dense, churning noise of his Echocord collaborations.  On the B, Fantasy is a well-familiar deep house groove along the lines of his Harmonie Park and Laid releases, and Jupiter touches on the lighter side, with a Titonton Duvante style skip-beat and sunbeams of keyboard flourish.  Unmarked marked silver labels, an inscription that bears the mark of the venerable late Ron Murphy, this is an unassuming and deep release by a Detroiter who has gone on to broader recognition in the years since.

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Conducted Sampler 2 12″ – Music Man

Belgian Music Man imprint compiles some selections from Marcel Dettmann‘s “Conducted” mix for the vinyl audience.  To the Berghain resident’s credit, it’s an unpredictable collection with some range beyond banging techno.

The Toupe Committee track sounds like a well-tuned tribute to AFX‘s Analog Bubblebath-era break-driven rave acid, newcomer Answer Code Request follows that up with a slowed-down garage / dubstep joint reminiscent of the hybrid style produced by artists like Roof Light and Late.  On the other side, Geigling’s Vril contributes an industrial techno barrage, and The Analogue Cops’ bizarre looped vocals and Dutch electro style round out the release.  The 12″ doesn’t fit neatly into categories, but is even handier in the box because of it.

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